You will remember Kirk Gibson’s giant swing, Mickey Hatcher’s goofy smile, Tom Lasorda’s gallant strut to home plate during nightly introductions, waving his cap and bouncing his belly even if it was Oakland where they booed. And called him a pig.
You will remember Orel Hershiser on one knee, Alfredo Griffin on his stomach, Jay Howell on his toes, slow-dancing with teammates as he left the field after a Game 4 exorcism of his demons.
When you think of the 85th World Series, you will remember, in order of Dodger victories: The Homer, The Shutout, The Save, and, finally, The Scene, the Game 5 celebration after the Dodgers defeated the Athletics, 5-2, for the world championship.
OK, so maybe all Orel Hershiser did after striking out Tony Phillips for the last out was stand there and stare at the sky. Maybe you were shouting into your television set, “Do something. Throw your glove, long-jump into the arms of your catcher, run into the stands and come out with a flag around your skinny body, do something .”
Then again, considering the Dodger season, maybe Hershiser’s reaction was perfect. History shows that he is not the first to stare at the sky upon witnessing a miracle.
Those will be your memories. But those are just some of the memories.
Here are other things that happened in the past week that won’t show up on a $19.95 videotape or in a souvenir box score. Here are the smaller, sometimes hidden things that nonetheless contributed as much to the Dodger victory as Bob Costas’ mouth.
“Unbelievable,” after all, is a word with more than just a couple of letters.
Nice To See Ya--Whereas most of the ex-Dodgers and ex-A’s fell over themselves verbally hugging and kissing their old team this series--witness Dave Stewart’s emotional visit to the Dodger clubhouse after Game 5--one player handled it reasonably. That player, not coincidentally, was a Dodger.
“I’ve only talked to one guy over there all week,” ex-A’s pitcher Tim Belcher said late in the series.
And your other buddies?
“I sort of talked to them,” Belcher said, smiling. “During the first-game introductions, while we were all standing there on the field, I yelled at them and flipped them off.”
Nice to See Ya II--The series was three batters old when Belcher smacked Jose Canseco in the arm with a fastball. The next day, Hershiser put a two-strike fastball behind Canseco’s head.
Outside of his Game 1 grand slam, Canseco spent the rest of the series in a fog, hitting just five other balls out of the infield.
“He knows he can hit the ball 450 feet,” A’s Manager Tony La Russa said during all this. “But something has gotten into him where it looks like he’s trying to hit it 480 feet.”
Seeing Things--The key to Gibson’s game-winning, ninth-inning, 2-run homer in Game 1 may have taken place before Gibson ever grabbed a bat. With Mike Davis batting and 2 out in the ninth, Dodgers left Dave Anderson in the on-deck circle. Pitcher Dave Stewart became careless and walked Davis, which would have been no big deal if Anderson, with 2 homers this season, were due up next.
But then into the dugout went Anderson and out came Gibson and, after just one game, the A’s brain trust was already put on the spot.
“We aren’t little boys over here, they couldn’t fool us, we saw Gibson over there in the dugout,” A’s dugout coach Bob Watson said the next day.
One problem. Before he walked through on his way to the plate, Gibson was never in the dugout.
The First Signs of Panic--After being shut out 6-0 by Hershiser in Game 2, the usually friendly A’s were openly angry.
Dave Parker screamed at reporters to get out of his face. Ron Hassey snapped at questions with one-word answers.
And Glenn Hubbard would not take his head out of his locker.
He was asked, what kind of stuff did Hershiser have?
“What do you think, man,” he said, refusing to turn and face the questioners.
Good stuff? Great stuff?
“He had six-to-nothing stuff man, shutout stuff, ain’t that enough for you, man?” Hubbard asked.
For the remainder of the series Hubbard went 1 for 6 with a key error and another ground ball that went off his face and, finally, a benching in Game 5.
The Second Signs of Panic--Before Game 2 at Dodger Stadium, the A’s announced that on the forthcoming travel day, the entire team would work out at Oakland Coliseum at 2 p.m.
Sometime during the Dodgers 6-0 victory, A’s manager Tony La Russa changed his mind, and made the workout voluntary.
It was as if that was what his team had been waiting to hear. The next day in Oakland, just eight A’s showed up, none of them bearing uniforms with the names Canseco or McGwire or Parker or Lansford.
Hundreds of media were witness to a surreal scene--a World Series practice that looked like a Little League practice. Kids in shorts shagging fly balls, and players such as reserve Mike Gallego, who didn’t come to plate once this series, taking a hundred swings in the batting cage.
Perhaps it was Gallego who best described what the A’s may have been feeling.
“I don’t know about the other guys,” Gallego said, “but the reason I’m here is that at home the walls are starting to close in.”
Beauty and the Best--The differences between the teams could ultimately be traced to the differences between their managers, which could be traced all the way down to the T-shirts they wore under their uniforms.
Tony La Russa consistently wore shirt adorned with the name of a ballet school. Lasorda wore a shirt adorned with whatever it was he had just eaten.
Beauty and the Best II--The differences in the managers extended to the way they talked. La Russa, who has a law degree, was careful, even-toned, tight.
Lasorda, well, in the middle of a pack of journalists before Game 4, he was asked for an interview by a radio reporter from the Dominican Republic.
“What are you asking me for an interview for?” Lasorda shouted. “Just ask the question!”
So the man did. In Spanish.
Without pause, Lasorda answered the question. In Spanish.
As pens fell and tape recorders clicked off, Lasorda answered another question in Spanish. And another.
After Lasorda finally finished with a long Spanish monologue, punctuated with several fists in the air, somebody asked him what he had just said.
“Beats the heck out of me,” Lasorda explained. “I just hope I said something nice.”
False Advertising--Folks should have known A’s weren’t going to be all they were touted to be from the start of Game 3, the first game in Oakland.
The popular Walter Haas, in first-pitch ceremonies, was introduced as “One of Oakland’s leading citizens . . . “
Only, the Oakland A’s owner doesn’t live in Oakland. He lives in San Francisco.
Tunnel Vision--How much had Lasorda set his team’s mind to winning? When Tim Belcher was late arriving to the ballpark before Game 3, he told officials he got lost taking a local train from the team’s hotel in San Francisco. Turns out, he took the right train, but had daydreamed right through his stop.
“I was sitting there thinking about the Series and the next thing I know, I’ve gone too far,” Belcher explained.
Bash of Confusion--By the end of Game 3, even though the A’s won, 2-1, when Mark McGwire hit a Jay Howell mistake into the seats, the Dodger pitching had already worked its way inside the basher’s brains.
Facing Tim Leary in the fourth, McGwire walked halfway down to first base on what he thought was ball four. Sorry. It was a strike down the middle. The frustrated McGwire hammered the next ball into a fly out.
The next inning, with Leary tiring and Ron Hassey on first after a walk, Walt Weiss worked the count to 2-0. It was a perfect situation for a . . . big swing? That’s what Weiss did, lining into a double play and giving the Dodger pitchers the confidence that they were driving the A’s crazy.
Weiss, who said he wanted to prove history wrong by showing that a team could win a world title with a rookie shortstop, had the worst series of anyone, going 1 for 16 with an infield single.
Never Thought You’d Notice--The Dodgers’ 4-3 victory in Game 4 was seemingly won in a Jay Howell flourish in the seventh and ninth innings, when he reired both Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco with runners on base.
The game was won long before that, thanks to two scenes that illustrate, as well as any other this series, the Dodgers penchant for little things.
In the A’s 4th, with the Dodgers leading, 2-1, starter Tim Belcher allowed runners to reach first and second on a hit and a walk and then came face to face with Dave Parker.
Belcher is a rookie. Parker is a 15-year veteran. Parker worked the count to 2-2 and then suddenly, as Belcher is in his windup, he stepped out of the batter’s box. It was something A’s hitters did throughout the final two games, an obvious attempt at rattling minds and concentration.
Except this time, Belcher threw the ball anyway. It was a good pitch, a fastball that would have been a strike, and even though it didn’t count, when Parker stepped back in, it was he who was rattled. He swung at the next pitch, strike 3, and Belcher escaped the jam two batters later by retiring both McGwire and Carney Lansford on four total pitches.
“First time I face them, I was a mental midget, I was crazy,” Belcher said later. “But I learned.”
One inning later, with the Dodgers up, 2-1, Oakland’s Terry Steinbach led off with a ball off the left-field fence. It was a sure double, except Mickey Hatcher, who runs like a rodeo clown, swaggered over and picked it up and threw it back to the infield so quickly, Steinbach was barely around first base. He returned to first where, 12 pitches and 3 outs later, he was stranded.
“The big boys go down, the little boys take over,” Hatcher said later. “Heck, I will play out in left field, I will play anywhere.”
But about the way he runs . . . “I can’t help the way I run,” Hatcher explained. “I think I just go faster than my body wants me to go.”
Early Celebration--It would be nice to end this recap with stories of champagne and water buckets and cherry pies and whipped cream and every thing else the Dodgers poured on each other after Game 5.
But by listening to the clubhouse banter, the Series really ended before that. After the Dodgers’ 4-2 victory in Game 4, Lasorda shouted at Kirk Gibson: “Let’s hear it Gibby, let’s hear you do me!”
Most managers cringe when they are imitated by their players. Lasorda was asking for an imitation. “Great . . . team,” Gibson shouted in his best gravelly Lasorda voice. " Great . . . team. Great . . . team.”
Later, with most everyone gone, Gibson pronounced: “You know, everybody has been saying this is the ugliest team ever, ugly, ugly team. I’ve got one wish right now. If we win this thing, I want everybody to keep on saying it. Ugly, ugly team.
“Because you know, I’m going to be the one wearing the ring. I’ll been dancing around, my teammates will be dancing around. We’ll have the rings, and everyone will be saying ugly, ugly world champions . And that will be nice.”